MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown & MotorCity casinos temporarily closing amid COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 10:20 PM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 18:50:34-04

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino will stop operations on Monday evening amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Full coverage: Coronavirus outbreak in Michigan

In a letter obtained by 7 Action News to employees, MGM Grand Detroit President and COO David Tsai said they will suspend operations at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16.

"We expect to remain closed for at least two weeks, and we will be working with the MGCB to reevaluate when we can reopen for business," the letter reads.

The casino confirmed the news shortly after in a statement on social media.

MotorCity Casino will be closed for two weeks beginning Monday, March 16. The hotel will remain open.

Greektown Casino-Hotel will also temporarily suspend operations for two weeks, beginning March 16. The casino will be paying its 1,650 employees during the closure.

“Since the coronavirus threat began we have implemented stringent CDC-recommended protocols throughout our enterprise, including increased daily cleaning regimens at our facilities, maximizing air circulation, cancelling or postponing all concerts and live events, and we’re in the process of temporarily closing down buffets, among other initiatives," Penn National Gaming said in a statement.

As confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan climbed to 53 on Sunday, Gov. Whitmer announced additional measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

“The Gaming Control Board is working to temporarily close casinos to further protect public health," she said during a press conference.

It's unclear when the temporary closures will take effect and for how long; this comes just one day after Action News reported concerns from two MGM Grand Detroit employees in wake of the pandemic.

Reports from other parts of Michigan said that FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek would close at 3 a.m. on March 16 and Gun Lake Casino closing over the weekend.

Caesars Windsor also announced it was closing the gaming floor at 4 a.m. Monday followed by hotel guests leaving by 12 p.m.

Currently, Gov. Whitmer has banned all public gatherings of more than 250 people; the measure has led to canceled sporting events, concerts, and weddings in Michigan.

Sunday, the CDC announced a more aggressive guideline - suggesting that events of more than 50 people be postponed for the next 8 weeks to stop the spread of COVID19.

MORE | CDC: Canel or postpone all events with more than 50 people for next 8 weeks

Gov. Whitmer's office told Action News Sunday night they are reviewing this new suggestion.

Locally, Oakland County is now asking bars & restaurants to limit capacity to half.

Owner of Duggan's Irish Public in Royal Oak is concerned with how the new rule will affect his business and his staff.

“Half capacity, we won’t make it. Half my bank, half my bills, I don’t get to pay half," Tony Kasab told Action News.

Ohio and Illinois have already temporarily closed bars and restaurants to help contain the spread of the virus, something local restaurant owners are watching for, though no state mandate has been announced yet.

“Think about the the amount of people that work in the restaurant industry," Kasab said, noting that due to concerns over COVID19, he said his restaurant has never been cleaner.

Additionally on Sunday, Gov. Whitmer announced a new executive order aimed at cracking down on price-gouging during this pandemic.

"No one shall sell any good, material, emergency supply or consumer food item more than 20 percent higher than they charged as of March 9, 2020 unless the person demonstrates that the price increase is attributable to an increase in the cost of bringing that product to market," said Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The AG's office has already identified four businesses accused of marking up items in wake of the COVID-19 outbreak; three of them are in metro Detroit.

- A store in Ann arbor accused of selling hand sanitizer for as much as $30, $40, or $60 a bottle
- A grocer in Dearborn accused of marking up hand sanitizer by 900 percent
- A store in Farmington Hills accused of selling rice and lentil beans at a 60 percent mark-up.

Violating the executive order will be a criminal misdemeanor. The new measure takes affect on Monday morning and lasts until April 13.